Holy See Commission Readies Guidelines on "New Age"

Vatican and World Experts Meet in Rome

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 14, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See is studying the answers given by local Churches in regard to New Age and is preparing a document of guidelines for bishops on the subject.

The International Consultation on New Age, being held in Rome, was convoked by a commission of various Vatican bodies on «Sects and New Religious Movements,» a Vatican press statement reports.

Members of the commission include representatives of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, of the pontifical councils for Promoting Christian Unity, for Culture, and for Interreligious Dialogue.

The study is a follow-up to the February 2003 publication of a provisional report entitled «Jesus Christ the Bearer of the Water of Life: A Christian Reflection on the ‘New Age.'»

That text explained that the «New Age is not, properly speaking, a religion, but it is interested in what is called ‘divine.’ The essence of New Age is the loose association of the various activities, ideas and people that might validly attract the term.»

The statement reveals that preparation for the meeting was based on the answers of the episcopal conferences to a questionnaire sent to them when that document was presented.

In addition to the representatives of the four Vatican organizations, some 20 experts, selected by episcopal conferences worldwide, are attending the three-day meeting that ends Wednesday.

The meeting is addressing two issues that are particularly worrying to the experts, the statement clarifies: The two are the «discernment of the psychological techniques promoted by the New Age, and a profound comparison between the New Age’s answers and those offered by Christian spirituality.»

Finally, Vatican sources revealed that the meeting seeks to «present some pointers for pastoral reflection on the New Age as a proposal for the episcopate.»

The last plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Culture, held in Rome from March 11-13, indirectly addressed the issue of reflection on the present «challenge of unbelief and of religious indifference.»

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